While the box office savants are impressed with the better-than-expected grosses of this weekend's horror flicks — Final Destination 3-D and Halloween Rebooted 2 — the question on many lips is why did this slasher showdown have to happen?

Until this weekend, Hollywood's code of honor has been revolved around an iron commandment: We do not release more than one horror film per weekend. And thus, since the days of Chaplin and Pickford, no third-tier, shamelessly exploitative attempt to ring dollars out of the pockets of gullible teenagers looking for cheap screams has had to compete on its opening weekend with any other third tier, shamelessly exploitative attempt to ring dollars out of the pockets of gullible teenagers looking for cheap screams.

And thus has Hollywood grown and flourished, its blessings divided equally for its rulers to rejoice.

The opening weekend for these films is especially important as once word gets out of what a low-rent, awful-not-in-a-good-way, tedious march through hell these movies are, their grosses typically fall off something in the range of 99.99999 percent in their second weekends.

So although Final Desitination hauled in $23.3 million for Warner Brothers this weekend and Halloween 2 brought Papas Weinstein a nothing-to-sneeze at $17.4 million, the pure tragic dilemma Hollywood is pondering is: why couldn't Halloween have moved to another weekend (say one closer to, uh, Halloween), letting Final Desitination sop up the entire horror shopping dollar of a combined 40.7 this weekend, and then gotten its own 40 millionish some other week?

The scuttlebutt around town is that Halloween had been booked for this weekend when Final Desitination nosed its way onto this precious late summer patch of sand. So, people ask, facing up to that showdown, why couldn't the Weinsteins see what was clear to the entire world and its grandmother: that Final Desitination was clearly the stronger of the two low-rent exploitation franchises (it's even, as the title suggests, in 3-D), and seeing that, why couldn't they swallow their scheduling pride and get the fuck out of the way?

As with many things Weinsteins, we can glean motives only through a glass darkly, but a few hypotheses have surfaced about why this tragedy had to happen:

  • Moving the release date was prohibitively costly.
  • There was a belief that FD3-D skews female and H2 skews male so there is room for both.
  • This was the Weinstein's first window after the Inglorious Basterds release and thus their chance post-Basterds to get Halloween out during the summer months.
  • With their flurry of deals that they are getting into and out of, they may have needed to release Halloween by a certain, because perhaps of some expiring treaty.
  • They couldn't swallow their pride because they can't swallow their pride. That's why they they call them Weinsteins after all.

Whatever the true reason, one horror scenario is going to haunt the dreams of Hollywood executives until the end of their days; when studio chiefs go to sleep at night it will be the face of those lost millions looming before them, along with the eternally unknowable specter of what could have been.